Higgins: Chasing the SnakesWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank goodness Super Tuesday is behind us and St. Patrick’s Day is mere hours away. In this all too brief period of relative calm before a Celtic Storm of Guinness and 12 year-old examples of the distiller’s art, I strangely found myself connecting many of those running for elective office with the mythical patron saint of Ireland. Like many of those doing so, Patrick seemed a rather unlikely candidate for his role, having in fact come to Ireland for the first time in chains as a slave (long a favorite way for the Irish to treat their eastern neighbors). Also like many politicians, there’s a good bit of misinformation out there regarding his history and alleged achievements.
Having done a bit of research on Patrick, one cannot help but notice for example, that as part of his missionary duties of casting out evil (something which some recent candidates seem to believe they can do), he’s credited with driving the snakes from Ireland. Now while it’s true that there are no legless reptiles on the Emerald Isle (except perhaps, those long since brought over as pets … or perhaps a few spineless ones running for political office), the terrible truth is that there have never been snakes native to the Island. The myth for this wondrous feat is little more than pure fabrication (probably done by his most ardent supporters or operatives attempting to gain his canonization). And while the facts do not bear the story out, the continued recounting of these half-truths, mistruths and outright lies cannot help but lead to comparisons to those running for office.
We are told the fiction by some that experience in running a business means that a candidate is better able to help run a government. Unless you consider that like government, most businesses seek to expand their size and influence; or that the current CEO seems to believe that he can do whatever he wants without consulting with stockholders, senior management or the board of directors, I can find none. No business running like government could long remain in business (well … maybe GM and Chrysler), and government seems all but incapable of the reorganization required to run like one.
Many of those same candidates tell us the myth that if elected to office, they’ll “work to bring jobs to the area.” Of course governments can do no such thing, with the exception of course of adding to their own ranks through the previously mentioned expansionism. In fact the only way that politicians and governments can even hope to assist in this effort is to get out of the way of the entrepreneurs who actually create jobs.
Others tell us tales that they’ll bring more services and lower taxes when elected. Setting aside the logical inconsistency that these political saints can somehow perform a miracle and do more with less, we are left with the terrible truth that government isn’t there to provide things to its constituents in the first place. Government was designed to do for people only those things that individually they cannot do for themselves. Attempting to do more for people than paving the streets and keeping them safe is a question of taking personal responsibility, and a quality of life issue that cannot be parceled out by government fiat.
Of course incumbents tell us the fable that they should be rewarded and retained (or moved up the governmental food chain) so that their experience can be taken advantage of. Certainly something is being taken advantage of with the experience currently being displayed by government, but it seems far more likely to be the trust of the voters. If this is the kind of government that experience gets us, I vote that kick all the bums out and start from scratch. Political neophytes may not be experienced with the way government works (or doesn’t), but neither are they cursed with a history of doing the “business as usual” that has proved good for politicians and not so much for voters.
It seems that like those surrounding St. Patrick, far too often what we’re handed by candidates is little more than myth and legend. They have far too little to do with the actions performed, past or present; and are usually more the result of cleverly fabricated fictions by campaign organizers. I’m afraid that when the dust settles in November, we’re far more likely to have those who, like St. Patrick, have been given credit for chasing the snakes from somewhere these reptiles have never been. As we celebrate the day in his honor once more however, perhaps it’s we who might learn a valuable lesson from St. Patrick’s myth, and instead chase out a few snakes ourselves.